February 16, 2019

Wildfires Devastate California, Leave State in Shambles

Hannah Stoch ‘22

When you hear “California,” you probably imagine sunny beaches, Hollywood lights and glamorous cities.  Now, after the destruction caused by two of the state’s largest wildfires, some of these sights are unrecognizable.
The Woolsey Fire erupted on November 8 and spread almost 100,000 acres across Los Angeles and Ventura counties. Three people were killed and around 250,000 people had to evacuate their homes. Over 1,500 structures were destroyed, including homes, schools, restaurants – entire communities left devastated. At the fire’s peak, many described the air in the area as “the dirtiest air in the world.”
Thankfully, the fire was fully contained by November 21 and the land is already starting to recover. The majority of people who evacuated have returned home and crews worked around the clock to get utilities such as power and telephone lines up and running again.
The Woolsey wildfire, while horrible and destructive, caused nowhere near the amount of destruction that The Camp Fire, located in northern California, caused. The Camp Fire has been marked as the deadliest wildfire in California’s history.
The Camp Fire also erupted on November 8, burning over 150,000 acres in Butte County and destroying 19,000 structures. Eighty four people are confirmed dead, but there are still more than 500 people missing. The area was blessed with four to seven inches of rain on November 21, which helped quell the fire. However, the rain mixed with ashes made thick paste, resulting in difficulty finding bodies.
The local Butte County community, specifically those from the city of Paradise, California – which was hit worst by the fire – have started healing from the damage. Hashtags such as #paradisestrong and #buttecountystrong have started circulating and people are trying to join together and raise awareness.
“It is overwhelming, I don't have any word to describe it,” Butte County Sheriff and Coroner Kory Honea said. “This is unprecedented. No one has had to deal with this magnitude that caused so much destruction and regrettably so much death.”
While California is known for its devastating wildfires, the amount of wildfires as well as their deadliness has increased in recent years due to California’s disastrous drought and global warming across the world. In a new climate report published by the Trump Administration, scientists predict that by 2050, the average temperature in the continental United States could rise by 2.3 degrees – potentially diminishing coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean as well as causing deadlier hurricanes and wildfires.
The President attacked the report, saying “One of the problems that a lot of people like myself, we have very high levels of intelligence but we’re not necessarily such believers,” commenting on the fact that he does not believe in global warming.

“As to whether or not it’s man-made and whether or not the effects you’re talking about are there, I don’t see it,” Trump added to his disapproval of the report.

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